By Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor and Publisher
Be Inkandescent magazine
Inspired by philosopher John Rawls and his concept, A Theory of Justice, Vienna, VA fine artist Judith Peck has taken a legal idea and translated it into a powerful series of paintings called “Original Position.”
Peck — who is sister to two lawyers, and mother to an aspiring law student — explains that Rawls’ ideas spoke to her long-time devotion to painting about social justice issues.
“It is a method of determining the morality of a certain issue, such as slavery, which is based upon the principle that societal roles were completely re-fashioned and redistributed, and that from behind your veil of ignorance you do not know what role you will be reassigned.
“Only then can you truly consider the morality of an issue,” Peck explains. “The metaphor of the veil is a powerful one, and what I use to enable the viewer’s experience in this collection of work.”
The power behind the paintings
When she starts a new painting, Peck applies all of the selected colors and then saturates them with layers of glaze to achieve a luminous vibrancy.
“With jeweled tones and dramatic lighting, I create a presence that can be seen in the figure,” she says. “Captured in their gaze is the knowledge that the person has experienced life fully and has moved beyond life’s challenges. I’ve painted my models to have a glow distinct from the background that might otherwise envelop them.”
This is exemplified in her current series, “Original Position,” which uses the imagery of veils to pull viewers in so they can investigate their own ideas about fairness.
“The warmly resonant face on the canvas moves viewers out of complacency and evokes social urgency,” she notes. “The paintings are intimate, and viewed up close create the sense of looking into a mirror to meet eyes that ask inescapable questions. Beauty and pain, life and death, they all come into balance.”
The goal, Peck says, is to have the viewer become the philosopher.
“My hope is that they will be drawn into introspection on the meaning and preciousness of life,” she adds. “Art becomes poetry, and poetry stirs into philosophy, leaving the viewer subtly changed.”
What people are saying about Peck’s newest collection
“Judith Peck’s strong, cerebral paintings, are beautifully rendered,” says the show’s curator Roxana Martin. “The luminous, jeweled colors arrest the eye. The paintings explore issues of fairness and justice and are inspired by John Rawls’ thought experiment. There is a palpable tension in the dialogue between the images and the viewer. This is a worthwhile exhibition.”
About Fine Artist Judith Peck
Born in Brooklyn in 1957, Judith Peck has made it her life’s work to paint about the history and healing of social injustice. A graduate of the George Washington University with a degree in fine arts, she has exhibited her work in venues nationwide, including the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA, and the Rhonda Schaller Studio in Chelsea, NY, as well as in such print media as Ori Soltes’ book The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust and the San Francisco City Concert Opera Orchestra’s announcement for “Die Weisse Rose.”
For more information visit www.judithpeck.net.